Leaving high school with a head start

Twenty-four students in the class of 2014 at Farmington High School will begin their college years with either an Associate of Arts degree or a significant amount of college credits under their belt through the district’s College Now Academic and Career Technical programs.

Fifteen seniors will graduate from Mineral Area College with an Associate of Arts degree one week before they become FHS graduates. An additional nine will have completed the 42-hour general education block from the college.

Andrea Richardson is the dual credit/dual enrollment program director at the school and says this year’s numbers set a record for the program.

“Our old record of students graduating with an Associate of Arts was five,” Richardson said, with this year’s amount three times the old record. The change in numbers is the same with the general education block.

Senior Justin Shelley will graduate with a Mathematics major and his classmate, Hannah Downs, will graduate a Communication Arts major.

Maura Allen and Sunita Chand will graduate with Honors in the program.

The College Now program first began in the 2007-08 school year after school staff recognized the potential for a program after a student graduated with his AA degree the previous year due to his enrollment in dual credit courses.

Dual credit refers to students taking college level courses taught at the high school by a college-certified high school teacher.

Students receive high school credit and, if they pay for the tuition, college credit for the course as well.

Richardson said 282 juniors and seniors taking dual credit courses chose to pay to receive 893 dual credit course credits for this school year.

Eligible students enrolled through the program at the high school can apply for assistance in paying the tuition fees to obtain college credit. That help comes in the form of College Now and Career Tech scholarships. While the requirements are different for the two, the amount paid toward the classes the students take is the same. Those who receive the scholarship only pay one-third of the price for each dual credit course. The other two-thirds are paid by Farmington High School and Mineral Area College.

Twenty-seven students are taking courses on the Career/Tech scholarship and 54 received the College Now Academic scholarship for this year.

Richardson said more than 60 percent of the senior class has taken at least one college class while in high school.

The stories she hears from past graduates is what makes Richardson see how the beneficial the program is for the district.

She recalled the story of a recent graduate visiting the high school after the first couple months being away at college.

Richardson said the graduate’s new roommate talked about having “so many college classes when she was in high school and how prepared (the roommate) would be with her 12 credit hours.”

“The FHS graduate simply smiled and replied, ‘I have 52’,” Richardson recalled.

She added even if the student does not complete the AA or 42-hour general education block, “they are so happy to be able to have the option to take more electives, study abroad or graduate with a Bachelor of Science or Arts in under three years.”

Two sets of twins will graduate this spring with a head start on their college education. Ashlynne and Erin Roberts will receive their Associates degrees. Jaclyn and Jessica Bequette will each have the 42-hour general education requirements under their belts.

Cost was a major factor in the four deciding to pursue this avenue while in high school.

“We were ready to get a head start on our college education,” Ashlynne said.

Erin added the increased rigor in dual credit courses helped her learn how to balance school and extra-curricular activities.

The Bequettes both earned the College Now scholarship for their senior year. Jaclyn said holding down a part-time job while paying for classes teaches an important lesson.

“If you pay for the college class yourself, it helps you realize how hard you have to work for it,” she said.

Jessica urges interested students to apply for all possible scholarship offers, making note of deadlines.

Briar Hartrup will graduate with her Associate of Arts in May.

It was during her sophomore year Hartrup made that decision.

“I want to be an orthodontist. I’m trying to get two years out of the way,” she said.

Like her classmates, Hartrup is also involved in school activities outside the classroom.

She would tell interested students to “plan it out” if they would decide to pursue their associates.

Also graduating with an Associate of Arts degree are Emily Damba, Jack Davis, Dylan Gaige, Ashley Gaines, Jessica Hampton, Andrew Norton, Samantha Parson and Bailey Williams.

Students graduating with the 42-hour general education block include Garrett Callahan, Emily Goodson, Tabitha Griffith, Destinee Harris, Andi Petty, Katharine Stuart and Cheyanne Wheelis — who is a junior.

Speak Your Mind